The story we all know by heart: screwed up doctor tries to play God by making man. But what a lot of people don't do is really look at the film for this film is not about Dr. Frankenstein (yeah people: the doctor is named Frankenstein. Not the monster. GET IT BLOODY RIGHT!), but about the symbolism of The Monster. One thing you tend to notice about the classic horror stories is the symbolism each of the monsters stand for. Dracula stood for depression (being alone for centuries). The Wolf Man for a woman's period (watch the film, and you will get why I even say that). The Creature Of The Black Lagoon for puberty (a hideous man trying to win the heart of a gorgeous woman). With Frankenstein, the symbolism is being unaccepted. Once The Monster is free from Frankenstein, it tries to be part of society and be accepted. But due to him literally having the brain of a mass murderer (damn you, Fritz!), he can't help himself and like most misunderstood people, he is hated by everyone. Even his maker. That is why James Whale's adaption strikes such a strong chord with people: it is all about a person that no one understands. No one gets. And Whale shows this perfectly in his flawless direction. He shows this while still providing the morality tale of Man trying to be God and the end results.
There are only two people that need mentioning in this film in terms of acting: Boris Karloff and Dwight Frye. First off with Karloff. Like most people, they have to credit this film to him. He seriously sells this film with his timeless portrayal as The Monster. I honestly do not know how to do this review justice. This is one of those performances that just speaks for itself. Everything from the way he moves to his grunts. I am not going to review that performance. All I will say: it is legendary for a reason. I love Dwight Frye. I adore this man's ability to act. In Dracula, I liked how he played a sane man and then turned into an insane maniac while swapping back and forth. Here I love how he plays a mentally disturbed assistant that, in my observation, might have a deeper meaning. Okay, bare with me for a bit. It is known that James Whale was openly homosexual and in his films there are some undertones that suggest his sexuality. With Frankenstein, my believe is that Fritz became jealous of The Monster's relationship with Frankenstein and as such why he has such a strong hatred for the Monster. It is all about jealousy and the feeling that you are going to be replaced by someone you have grown to love. I believe that Frye used that to his advantage and helped to create this hunched back maniac. Brilliant.
The rest of the actors (mainly Colin Clive and Edward Van Sloan) do their characters justice in bringing them all to life. But none of their performances actually stand out to me in this film. Hence why I won't go into detail about their acting.
When I decided to review there classic horror films, I had to go and see if their horror still lives up. Like with Dracula (and I am guessing like with the rest), it does not. But as a drama and a tale of man's desire to be God, this film lives on for a reason. I have seen numerous adaptions of this tale, and while as an adaption this is terrible, as a film it works. Even 80 years after it's release. So, why only four and a half stars? Simple: While it did touch me in the way that I could relate to the monster, I would have liked it if they expanded on the characters a bit more.
No single person can be credited for the success of this classic. James Whale, Boris Karloff, Mary Shelley, Jack Pierce, Carl Laemmle Jr., all should be praised for bringing Frankenstein to life. Having said that, there is one person who deserves a share of the praise and, to this day, goes virtually uncredited for the picture's success, French writer Robert Florey. Florey was the one who took Shelley's unfilmable novel and carved out a treatment that met Universal's time and budget requirements. It's a shame that Florey goes without recognition because without him there would have been no Frankenstein and thus no Bride of Frankenstein and, quite possibly, no Universal Studios.
James Whale directs Frankenstein in a way that makes it different from other productions of the era. His camera angles are more complex and interesting as they follow the action of Dr. Frankenstein's rise and fall. You see multiple angles of the lab, giving us more of a subliminal understanding of what's going on, even if we don't.
Karloff's monster is a great achievement of cinema. Without speaking, he portrays the creature as sympathetic, even when he's throwing children into the lake. He doesn't understand. He kills when he's threatened, not out of blind rage. Karloff shows us this without even speaking and makes us feel sorry for this heinous monster.
Frankenstein was yet another achievement for Universal and made them two for two in the monster making business, ushering in decades of superior and pathetic creature features for the world to digest.
lots have been said about frankenstein, even its dismissed scriptor robert fortley who got fired becuz of his support for bela lugosi has been mentioned. mae clarke, the woman who gets hit by james cagney with grapefruits in "public enemy", plays the finacee of dr. frankenstein after her copperation with james whale in the original "waterloo bridge"
ignored by some, frankenstein does have something deeply profane within its ideology. "frankenstein" daringly suggests the possibility of creating life without natural course that is the best target bombarded by puritanical american society then, and the fragmented outlook of frankenstein is the symptom of modernism, a half-baked state of man-machine stumbling along to demonstrate the contaminating sin of industrialization. homoeroticism as well as autoeroticism is also suggested in it since dr. frankeinstein chooses to create life in the abscence of female, and dr. frankestein exclaims "it's alive" when the monster arises to life, his excitement seems to border on sexual ecstacy, and then he marvels "with my own hands!!!!" the masturbatory insinauation is reeking everywhere. besides the course of "making life" with his hunchback assistant seems to appeal dr. frankestein more than endearing his finacee's bedroom.
and the subliminal purpose for the existence of deformed monsters like frankenstein is the phobia toward disfiguration after wwi. audience needs some surrogates to suffer from their suppressed subconscious fear so flicks like "frankestein", "dracula" even tod browning's "freaks" could occupy a space in this decade.